YOM HASHOAH (HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY): I NEED TO REMEMBER MY ROOTS...
By Rabbi Lawrence Troster
When I am called up for an aliyah (the honor of saying blessings over a part of the Sabbath Torah reading), I am called by my Hebrew name: Eliezer ben Yaakov Meir ve-Leah. My family follows the Ashkenazi custom of naming children after deceased relatives and I am named after my great-uncle Eliezer.
So who was Eliezer? His real name was Lejzor Trajster (the original Polish/Yiddish spelling of my family name: pronounced Lazar Treister) of Lagow, Poland, and he was one of my grandfather's older brothers. I have a picture of him on a postcard sent from Lagow to Toronto in the 1930s to the all the relatives of the Jewish community who had immigrated in the previous decades -- my grandfather came to Toronto in 1905 -- to ask them for contributions before the High Holidays for the Free Loan Society (Gemilut Hesed Casa) which gave people interest-free loans to help them make a living. This was the highest form of tzedakahaccording to traditional Jewish ethics. He was a member of the governing board of the society (see the postcard below; he is No. 5), and I have also learned that he was a member of the Kehilla's (Jewish communal organization) board of directors in 1932, who were charged with raising money for food to help the poor who constituted a significant percentage of the community.